Scallop Chowder with Wild Mushrooms and Chives


scallop chowder with wild mushrooms

Scallop chowder makes a nice alternative to the ubiquitous New England clam chowder. In fact, you could use almost any type of seafood in chowder.

The scallop chowder recipe below is featured in my new cookbook, New England Soups from the Sea, and includes 17 other chowder recipes that use different types of clams, fish, and shellfish. There’s a lot more to chowder than just clam chowder!

seafood cookbook imagery

Available Now!

From Rhode Island to Maine—Get 80 locally inspired recipes that honor the traditions of America’s northeast.

Now if you’ve never made chowder with anything other than clams, scallop chowder is a good place to start. Unlike other types of shellfish, there’s no shucking, de-shelling, steaming, or boiling that needs to be done first. You can use either sea scallops or the smaller and sweeter bay scallops. 

Why You Should Use Wild Mushrooms 

My recipe was inspired indirectly by another great soup book, 50 Chowders by Jasper White. He has a recipe for a scallop chowder with cabbage and bacon. I took that as a challenge to come up with my own unique recipe.

I thought for sure mushrooms would make a great scallop chowder. I went to the store, picked up some cremini mushrooms, and made the chowder. It was good.

But it wasn’t great.

Well, I can’t accept anything other than GREAT when it comes to chowder. I take it personally when my homemade versions aren’t totally epic. No really. I actually get disappointed in myself because I no longer expect to get great chowder anywhere other than my own kitchen. I rarely order chowder in restaurants anymore. It’s all so average and I get really annoyed when I have to pay for good-but-not-great chowder, which is 95% of the time.

It was then that I remembered I had a nice bounty of frozen wild maitake mushrooms (also called “hen of the woods”) that I’d foraged this past year. I re-made the chowder the next day and WOW, WHAT A DIFFERENCE! The mushroom flavor was so much more pronounced. It complimented the scallops beautifully and adding some chives at the end was the perfect garnish. 

Of course, you might not have your own foraged wild mushrooms hanging around in your freezer. In that case, many edible wild mushrooms are harvested by enthusiastic foragers and sold at farmers’ markets and other types of specialty markets. Some of the more common types of wild mushrooms you might come across include maitake, black trumpets, chanterelles, and chicken of the woods. You can try any type of wild mushroom in this recipe or use combinations of them.

The Best Store-Bought Mushrooms for Scallop Chowder

If there are few options for wild mushrooms where you live (or it’s just not wild mushroom season), there’s a simple solution. Use shiitake mushrooms. They have a rich, bold flavor that works really well in chowders and their meaty texture is actually similar to scallops! Though they only grow wild in Asia, shiitakes are now commercially cultivated all around the world, including here in North America. They are now widely available in all types of markets, including supermarkets.

scallop chowder pot

Whatever mushrooms you choose, try to avoid the common button mushrooms which pale in taste to wild mushrooms. That includes cremini mushrooms which are button mushrooms at a slightly more mature stage. 

All this said, my final recipe still wasn’t done. 

Clam Broth or Fish Stock? 

When I was testing this recipe for my New England soups cookbook, I had some friends over for a tasting party. Initially, I made this recipe with fish stock. Several folks commented that they thought it could use a little more seafood flavor, that it tasted a little more like a mushroom chowder than a scallop chowder.

I realized they were right. 

So the next day I re-made it again. This time I used clam broth as the base instead of fish stock and that elevated the briny flavor to have more of a fresh ocean taste. Now you could certainly use fish stock or even chicken stock as well. But clam broth is the best choice.

Ideally, for the best flavor, you want to make your own clam broth from freshly steamed clams but since we’re not making clam chowder, you’ll probably need to purchase some bottled clam broth instead. Not to worry, bottled clam broth (also called “clam juice”) can be pretty dang good. I’ve tried a few different brands and as of right now, my personal favorite is Bar Harbor clam juice

bar harbor clam broth

You can find it here on Amazon.

Finally, let me explain one more thing about my scallop chowder recipe.

To Add Flour or Not to Add Flour?

That is the great chowder question that is endlessly debated among chowderheads from Maine down to Connecticut. My feeling on it is that it depends on the recipe. Sometimes I’m anti-flour and sometimes I’m not. In this case, adding flour gave it a thickened texture that muted the flavor a bit.

At my tasting party, I made a portion with flour and without flour. The recipe without flour was the overwhelming favorite. 

Get 17 More Chowder Recipes!

As mentioned prior, this recipe is included in my new cookbook, New England Soups from the Sea. It features 80 total recipes and has an extensive chapter with 18 different types of chowder from New England.

It includes the following chowder recipes:

Authentic New England Clam Chowder
Mussel Chowder with Fennel
Lobster Corn Chowder
Portuguese Fish Chowder
Boston Fish Chowder

It also includes information on how to support sustainable local seafood as well as profiles of 39 species of New England fish and shellfish.

seafood cookbook imagery

Available Now!

From Rhode Island to Maine—Get 80 locally inspired recipes that honor the traditions of America’s northeast.

Scallop Chowder with Wild Mushrooms and Chives Recipe

Scallop Chowder with Wild Mushrooms and Chives

Scallop Chowder with Wild Mushrooms and Chives

A scallop chowder is a great alternative to the ubiquitous clam chowder. Wild mushrooms complement scallops really well in both texture and flavor. Chives add the perfect finishing touch. 

Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Author Craig Fear


  • 4 strips slab bacon, about 1/2 cup diced
  • 2-4 TBSPs unsalted butter
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic diced
  • 8 ounces wild mushrooms and/or shiitake mushrooms diced
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cups clam broth
  • 1 pound potatoes peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 ½ pounds bay scallop or sea scallops, chopped into smaller pieces
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup chives, or more! chopped, to taste
  • Sea salt to taste

Optional seasonings

  • Salt and pepper
  • Parsley chopped
  • Chives chopped
  • Oyster crackers
  • Bacon bits
  • Tabasco


  1. In a heavy bottom stock pot, render fat from bacon over very low heat for about 5-7 minutes. When a few TBSPs renders out, raise heat to medium and brown the bacon slightly. Remove the bacon but leave the rendered fat in the pot. Reserve bacon and chop into bacon bits.

  2. If you don’t get enough fat to render out, add 1-2 TBSPs butter to the bacon fat.

  3. Add onion, mushrooms, garlic, thyme and bay leaf and saute for 7 to 10 minutes until cooked through. Add 1-2 more TBSPs of butter, if necessary.

  4. Add stock and potatoes and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer, covered for about 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  5. Turn of the heat and add the scallops. Let them cook in the heat for about 5 minutes.
  6. If serving the chowder right away, heat the cream to just below boiling in a separate saucepan and then add it to the chowder. If not serving the chowder immediately, there’s no need to heat the cream. Just add it straight away and mix it in.
  7. Add chives and gently stir in. Add salt, to taste.
  8. Ladle chowder into individual bowls add optional seasonings to taste.

Recipe Notes

To thicken the chowder slightly, in a separate pot, make a roux. Melt 3 TBSPs butter over medium heat, add 3 TBSPs flour and whisk together for several minutes, until thickened and smooth. Drizzle this into the soup while the potatoes are cooking but do it well before the potatoes are cooked through. Stir constantly, to thicken slightly. This is a totally optional step! 

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About the Author

Craig Fear is the creator of Fearless Eating and the author of three books, The 30-Day Heartburn Solution, Fearless Broths and Soups and The Thai Soup Secret. After years helping clients with digestive issues, Craig decided to pursue writing full-time. He intends to write many more books on broths and soups from around the world! Click here to learn more about Craig.